Time To Think About The Potato Patch
Kevin Felts 02.01.18
For those of us who live in the southern part of the United States, it is time to plan your potato patch. There is an old tradition of planting potatoes around February 14th. Depending on the weather, I usually plant anywhere from February 14th to March 1st.
Some of you unfamiliar with planting potatoes may wonder what is different about planting potatoes than regular crops?
Potatoes are not grown from seeds. They are grown from buds that sprout off aged potatoes. The trick is to get potatoes to bud around the time you are ready to plant. This means buying “seed potatoes” a couple of weeks before you are ready to plant, then keep the potatoes in a dry warm location.
Potatoes seem to have an internal clock. Spuds kept from the previous year may start sprouting around December, which is too early to plant.
What about grocery store potatoes, can those be used to grow more potatoes?
Yes they can. However, some grocery store potatoes are sprayed with a chemical that prevents them from sprouting. Then again, I have seen certain brand names of potatoes sprout eyes just a month after buying them. Other brand names will rot before they sprout eyes.
I heard if you want to speed up sprouting, put the bag of seed potatoes under your bed, and near a heater vent. The warm temperatures are supposed to encourage the potatoes to sprout.
If the spuds are not sprouting and it is time to plant, cut the potato into one inch sections, and place them in a cookie sheet with warm water. After a day or two, the potatoes should start to sprout.
We will be getting into the sprouting in more detail when it gets closer to plant.
Where can you find seed potatoes?
Visit just about any farm supply store that sells garden seeds, and they should have seed potatoes in stock.
What do seed potatoes look like?
They look like a regular potato.
How many seed potatoes should I buy?
That depends on several factors. How large of a potato patch are you going to plant? How many cuttings will you get from each potato?
I try to buy the smaller seed potatoes. When they start sprouting, just cut them in half and they are ready to plant. The large potatoes, there seems to be a lot of waste with them.
As we move into potato planting season, articles will be posted detailing the step-by-step process of planting and growing potatoes.